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Salvation Army returns • Thursday January 2, 2003

Group leader rejects donation linked to gambling
AP, Jan 1, 2003

MARCO ISLAND, Florida (AP) — The Salvation Army has returned a $100,000 donation from a Florida Lotto winner because an organization leader didn’t want to take money associated with gambling.

David L. Rush, 71, announced the gift last week. He held one of four winning tickets in the $100 million Florida Lotto jackpot drawing of December 14 and took the $14.3 million lump-sum payment.

Maj. Cleo Damon, head of the Salvation Army office in Naples, Florida, told Rush that he could not take his money and returned the check, which another official had accepted.

“There are times where Major Damon is counseling families who are about to become homeless because of gambling,” spokeswoman Maribeth Shanahan said. “He really believes that if he had accepted the money, he would be talking out of both sides of his mouth.”

Rush also donated $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity and $50,000 to the Rotary Club of Marco Island. Both groups accepted the gifts.

“Everybody has a right to be sanctimonious if they want to be,” Rush said. “I respect the Salvation Army’s decision. I do not agree with it, but that is their prerogative.” He said he has been giving money to the Salvation Army, an evangelical Christian organization, for 40 years.

Rush said he sees the lottery, which has raised billions for Florida schools, as something more than a typical gambling organization.

“There’s no bigger gamble than investing in the stock market,” said Rush, a financial adviser. “For them to say this is gambling is an overstatement.”

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